Recently I've been talking with people about this elusive balance between two different ways of proceeding through life, one is doing what feels bright and kind of free-balling it according to the funnest thing, and the second is having discipline, creating habits that lock in your best practices and all that jazz.
I just realized how wildly dissatisfied with every drop of that discussion I've been. The question sucks because it hadn't yet met its own depths.
Of course it was a poet who shifted the conversation in a way that made it inevitable that I'd encounter the deeper perspective.
David Whyte describes a harrowing night on a boat when he was working as a naturalist in the Galapagos Islands. The ship jostled him awake, after slipping anchor. He narrowly saved the lives of everyone on board but the question of captaincy began to haunt him. Why had the new captain slept through it all?
He describes how a captain must never go to sleep so completely that he can no longer hear the sea.
... must never go to sleep so completely that he can no longer hear the sea
This made me actually gasp out loud. It closed the gap on so many lingering questions.
I realized that this distinction cleared up any confusion that might be lingering over every regrettable action of my life: all taken when I'd gone to sleep too deeply and was taking action outside of that deeper, essential conversation with the sea.
All the addictions, all the bursts of temper, and choices to be distracted and busy rather than quiet and merged with my deepest self all arise out of a chronic confusion over my own captaincy, and a willingness to go to sleep so deeply I can't hear the sea.
Rumi tells us that "the breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you, don't go back to sleep" but we need rest, and a good night's sleep can change everything, so what's he going on about? I think it's about the deeper waking, the one we must learn to carry through all that we do.
When I dial this in with clients, I find the key areas where they're going to sleep (and consequently are the areas where they're experiencing struggle or drama):
And each of these "problems" becomes the exact launching off point into the deep because the place where it rubs up against and annoys you is exactly the next portal opening.